Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Last One

Claude Stanley Choules. Born 3/3/1901. Died 5/5/2011. Age: 110.

This man, an Australian, was the last surviving combat veteran of World War I.

World War I was called "The War to End All Wars". At the time, it was a global cataclysm that engulfed nearly every industrialized nation in the world. It decimated the populations of Europe, England, Russia, Turkey, and other countries. It unleashed methods of destroying human life like the world had never seen before.

More importantly, it should have been a lesson to humanity about the terrible price to pay for allowing ourselves to think all of our problems could be solved with violence.

Only 31 years after the end of WW1, another global war began. It took humanity no more than a single generation to forget the lessons learned from the first one.

Since the end of that conflict, there has rarely been a moment in time where there was not war somewhere in the world. Why is it that humanity is unable to learn the lessons of history?

By all accounts, Mr. Choules became a lifelong pacifist after his service. He refused to march in Veterans' parades, or participate in any commemorations of events of the war. He thought that war should not be celebrated. He was right.

The man lived a full and rich life. All 110+ years of it. He had 3 children with his wife of 76 years. He knew how to be happy.

I wish we could all learn how to do the same.

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